In times of uncertainty, the thought of the future fills us with apprehension. We’re already facing disruption from technology, and now the COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped how we live and work.
One thing that we can be certain of is that technology will continue to be a key driver in talent acquisition. As businesses are cleared to reopen, the recruiting function will rely on technology to get back up and running in a cost-effective way. And as technology develops in response to our current circumstances, our increased reliance on tech solutions could have long-term effects on talent acquisition strategies — and on candidate experience.
“Talent acquisition technology will continue, over the next decade, to attempt to make us more efficient in our processes without losing the personal touch candidates demand,” says Tim Sackett, president of HRU Technical Resources and author of The Talent Fix. In the future, recruiting must strike the right balance between leveraging technology and deploying a people-first strategy.
Here’s what the future holds.
Automation Technology Escalates
When the stay-at-home orders are lifted and organizations ramp back up, automation is going to take on a pivotal role in recruiting. We’re facing a long-term economic downturn, and automating portions of the talent acquisition process reduces the costs of recruitment. “Recruiting automation, especially of tactical work, will increase during downturns,” Sackett says. “Where we might have hired two or three recruiters, now we will only hire one or two.”
There are other advantages to hiring automation, though. In addition to saving time and money, automation can be helpful in reducing bias. Manually conducting high-volume hiring for positions with low or no skill requirements exposes candidates to our implicit biases, causing us to eliminate candidates who are perfectly suited for the role, Sackett suggests. Automating the process, especially in the early screening stages, can help level the playing field.
But don’t worry about being replaced by technology. As the economy continues to drop, automation will become a necessity for many organizations — but people are essential, too. Machines can’t provide understanding and empathy, which are critical components of a good candidate experience.
“Recruiters who find ways to automate and reduce costs while still maintaining a high candidate experience will be elevated in the field,” Sackett says. “That’s really hard because those two concepts don’t usually work in parallel.” Innovative recruiters willing to develop automated processes with a human touch will have a distinct advantage in the new economy.
Tech-Savvy Blends with a Human Touch
In response to social distancing measures, organizations that are still hiring are moving towards a remote process. This has caused many organizations to streamline their recruiting and hiring processes for the sake of convenience, Sackett says. As we shift back towards normalcy — whatever that looks like — we may see an uptick in remote hiring and the simplified, cleaner processes that go with it.
“We’ll likely see less multiple face-to-face meetings, but most hiring managers will still want to meet people in person before hiring — and most candidates will want to do the same,” Sackett says. “Are you willing to accept a job without ever meeting your boss face-to-face or seeing your work environment in person? Most aren’t.”
Extreme social distancing and quarantine measures have taught us that no matter how evolved, technology is an inferior substitute for in-person interactions. The human touch will remain a critical component of candidate experience, as well.
Software Shifts Towards Marketing
Even in the face of a recession and high unemployment, the recruiting role must evolve to embrace marketing techniques — and marketing technology. Once the danger from COVID-19 has passed, organizations will have a lot of roles to refill. Integrating marketing technology will give your talent acquisition process an advantage as we return to our new normal.
“Marketing technology has evolved considerably over the past decade,” Sackett says. “It’s great at getting customers to buy products and services like never before in a very automated, directed way.” The same outcomes would greatly benefit talent acquisition. Marketing technology provides a lower-cost option for finding the right leads and transforming them into candidates.
But the human equation can’t be left out here, either. “Hire recruiters with a natural inclination to be marketers, who want to use technology to make themselves more effective,” Sackett says. “Find tech-savvy folks who love data and also are creative enough to drive talent attraction.”
Human creativity and innovation can’t be replaced by technology. That indomitable human spirit will help recruiters embrace new technology — and see us through this crisis.